Cade Lawson

Stuff I Use

Inspired by projects like Uses This, here is the stuff I use.

What’s in my Bag

I wear a black WNDRD PRVKE with the arches red accessory straps for office commuting, travel, and everything else. Before that, I carried a custom Timbuk2 messenger bag during grad school. If I need more space, I keep an ancient Jansport Classic backpack for backup.

Ever since I was 10 I’ve been writing with PaperMate Clearpoint 0.5mm mechanical pencils on blank computer paper. More recently I’ve been carrying a single Moleskin sketchbook for meeting and research notes. The size is great for an all-in-one notebook, and the paper in the sketchbook from the Art Collection is 111lb, which is much thicker than the average Moleskin notebook.1

I also never leave the apartment without a backpocket Field Notes and my REI carabiner clip to hold my keys.


At work I’m using a maxed 2023 14” MacBook Pro, and at home I’m using the baseline version of the same machine (except upgrade RAM for longevity). These replaced a 2019 16” MacBook Pro, which replaced a 2016 15” MacBook Pro, which replaced a 2011 15” MacBook Pro, which replaced a late 2007 20” iMac, which replaced a handful of hand-me-down PCs.

When I’m at my desk I connect to a LG Ultrafine 5K Monitor using a single USB-C cable for power, internet, and peripherals (Logitech G502 mouse and Code keyboard).

I built my own PC in March 2018 for gaming and deep learning side projects. It’s a high performing (for the time!) Intel + NVIDIA build packed into an excellent midsize metal and glass case.

CPU Intel Core i7 8700K
CPU Cooler Corsair H100i v2 All in One Water Cooler
Motherboard ASRock z370 Tai Chi
Memory G.Skill Trident RGB 32GB (2x16GB) 3000Hz
Storage (M.2) Samsung 970 Evo Plus m.2 PCIe NVMe 1TB
Storage (M.2) Samsung 960 Evo m.2 PCIe NVMe 1TB
Storage (HDD) Seagate Barracuda 3TB 7200rpm
Power Supply EVGA 850W G3
Case Fractal Design Meshify C (Tempered Glass Edition)
Case Fans Corsair LL120mm RGB

A USB switcher changes all desk peripherals (keyboard, mouse, audio interface, speakers, and microphone) between the Mac and PC setups.


I’m currently carrying a space black iPhone 14 Pro with a third-gen 12.9” iPad Pro companion.

On my homescreen sits many of the mobile versions of the desktop services I use on macOS, but notable mentions include Fantastical for calendar and reminders, Dark Sky Apple Weather for down-to-the-minute weather predictions, Inbox Gmail for email, and Overcast for podcasts.

I also wear a gen 5 space gray Apple Watch with the red sport band.


At any time of day I’m probably listening to music on Spotify. I rely on Dropbox and Google Drive for file sharing. Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides are also frequently used. For getting things, I’ve tried every to-do list and task manager out there, and I haven’t really liked any, but I’ve found that Things is useful for managing different projects.

While browsing Twitter on Tweetbot or Reddit on Apollo, I constantly save things to my Pocket to read whenever I get a few minutes. I use 1Password for saving passwords and Mint for tracking money. Slack is always open.

I write journal entries in Day One that contain research notes, a days summary, and interesting quotes and pieces I read. I’ve used Day One off and on for a few years, but during the summer of 2015 I started writing daily entries to log every day of my time as a Ph.D. student so that upon graduation I can look back and remember the details, both big and little. I believe daily writing also helps one communicate more effectively and easily.


For general programming, and specially for deep learning, I use Python paired with Jupyter notebooks. For data visualization I program mostly for the web: HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Svelte, and D3. For more mathy things, I’ll play with Mathematica (my first programming language!) for continuous problems.

I typeset LaTeX in Overleaf collaboratively and the LaTeX Workshop extension locally, take notes in Markdown with Sublime, and write code in Visual Studio Code.

I use Keynote for slides, Figma and Affinity Designer for vector drawing and most digital illustration, with the occasional use of Pixelmator for image editing.

When I was working in 3D printing, I used Mathematica and OpenSCAD to generate models, Blender for renders and mesh manipulation, and Makerware for print preparation. Tinkercad is also a great, easy-to-use modeling app that runs in the browser.


I run audio from my computer through an amazingly powerful and clean audio interface called the MOTU M4. It has just enough inputs and outputs for enthusiast setups, beautiful realtime VU meters, and packs a great DAC, sufficient amp, and preamp in an all metal enclosure.

For outputs, one runs to a pair of KRK Rokit 5 studio monitors with an accompanying Rokit 10s subwoofer. Another output runs to a dedicated hi-fi headphone amplifier, the JDS Labs EL Amp II+, with a JDS Labs Subective3 hardware 3-band EQ in-between for fun. This amp powers a small set of headphones. A majority of the time is spent listening from the Sennheiser 6xx with Audio Technica ATH-m50x for backup. For IEMs, I enjoy the Shure SE846, some older Shure SE215s, and the cheap but surprisingly great Tin Audio T2s.

For inputs, I speak into the renowned [Shure SM7B][sure-sm7b] for all video calling and voice overs, but have a Blue Yeticaster for backup.

Pen Plotting

I’m an amateur pen plotter but love the craft. I use an AxiDraw V3/A3 which has a nice extended plotting area, and use two sizes of color matched pens from Stabilo: the thinner Point 88 and thicker Pen 68.


As an amateur photographer, I’m shooting with a hand-me-down Nikon D80, but I always have my phone on me to snap a quick picture. When I was taking macro shots, I’d often set up a homemade light box.


I received a Sonor Force 2001 drum set when I was 10, and still play it today. I play Sabian AA and AAX cymbals and coated Evans drumheads. My drumstick of choice is the Vic Firth 5A. For quieter jam sessions, I make less noise on a Roland electric drum set.


Given that I sit for a majority of my day, and don’t anticipate that changing anytime soon, my first purchase after graduate school was investing in a Herman Miller Embody desk chair. At the office we have the Areon, which is also great, but I prefer the Embody for home. For a desk, I use a sit-stand Fully Jarvis but only bought the motorized frame. For the desk top, I bought an unfinished Hardware Reflections walnut butcherblock counter that’s 1.75” thick, and finished it with an oil-based polyurethane to bring out the wood grain with a slight amber hue.


Aside from my gaming PC, I have the lovely Nintendo Switch and an Xbox One that doesn’t do much anymore. A Chromecast and Apple TV are hooked up too.

  1. Sometimes it irks me when ink bleeds through paper.